The Big Cats of East Africa

The most charismatic of all the animals that roam the savannas of East Africa are the big cats. Safari enthusiasts exercise great patience and go to great lengths to ensure a sighting. To behold the beauty and splendour of the big cats in the wild is a prospect that warms the heart of every nature lover. Among a number of the ancient civilizations – the Romans, Sumerians, and Egyptians- the big cats were held in fascination and in higher esteem than any other wild animals. Some were indeed taken as gods, and many are the kings who have set images of the big cats on their royal emblems.

The big cats have in the past been more widely dispersed in the world than they are today. In our time, the redoubts of the big cats are in Africa and small pockets of Asia. The cat family is known by scientists as felidae and refers to an assortment of animals grouped as small and big cats. The small cats are less well known and appreciated. In East Africa small cats include wild cats, sand and serval cats. The small cats are very widespread in almost all habitats in East Africa. But they keep their heads down and elicit little conflict with man- the ultimate enemy of all wild animals.

The big cats you find outside Africa include tiger, jaguar, leopard, cougar and Iberian lynx. The big cats are the most committed carnivores in the entire animal kingdom. They are mostly nocturnal and rather secretive in nature. In common with primates, they read a lot from facial expression and love to play. The big cats capture and kill their prey. To witness a lion on a hunt is truly fascinating- if for a moment you take your mind from the fate of the prey. For all the fame of the big cats of East Africa, there are just three of them: lion, leopard and cheetah.

The lion, so called the king of the jungle, is the largest carnivore in East Africa. The adult lion stretches between 1.4m to 2.2 m – excluding the tail. The male can attain a weight of up to 225kg, while the hefty female reaches 168kg. The lion is noted for its exceptional strength and has been known to bring down the much larger buffalo, which has about 4 times its weight. For this reason, kings have understandably sought to be associated lions. But they hesitate to be associated with its reputation for sloth- for the lion shamelessly spends up to 20 hours daily resting.

Lions are social animals and of the big cats, they are the only ones to live and hunt in family groups. The group or pride usually consists of a number of related females and few unrelated males. Young females usually join their mother pride, but young males venture into the outside world to seek female company. Females in a pride practice communal cub rearing and hunting.

Lions are highly territorial. Males enforce territorial integrity, by means of their characteristic fierce roars, scent marking and periodic border patrols.

Lions of the same pride develop strong social bonds and practice head rubbing and social grooming. Females give birth after a gestation period of 3.5 months. After only 6 weeks, the cubs are induced into a lifelong habit of meat eating. Cubs play in imitation of adults and this helps in the development of such useful skills as stalking prey. Though born to kings, cubs need protection from hyenas and leopard. And also from non-pride male lions- for the reason that females will not mate until cubs are about 18 months old. The cubs therefore stand in the way of a mating encounter.

Fighting off males bent on infanticide appears to be one of the reasons why females live in prides. The moniker “king of the jungle” is misleading, for buffalo and hyenas sometimes kill lions. Elephants too have no fear of the king – they will charge at lions to encourage them to move on. But man remains the biggest threat to lions and he has hunted the lion to extinction in most of the world. The lion population in Africa is today estimated at only 23,000 and the survival status is listed as vulnerable in international conventions.

In most parks and game reserves of East Africa, however, the lion is impressively visible. Particularly in the grassy plains and dry forests where the large plains herbivores they prey on thrive. You will easily see the king in Ngorongoro and Serengeti in Tanzania and Amboseli, Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, and Maasai Mara in Kenya. In some other locations- such as Lake Manyara in Tanzania, Tsavo, in Kenya and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda, patience and skill is called for.

Early the last century, lions received extremely bad press when they disrupted the building of the East African railway in the Tsavo area of Kenya by feeding on the workforce. The movie “The Man-eaters of Tsavo” has captured this macabre drama. It is in this atmosphere that Theodore Roosevelt, the American president who was a pioneer safari enthusiasts said of lions: “except when resting and in the breeding season, the whole career of a lion may be best summed up in the single word: rapine”.

Lions when deprived of their usual prey occasionally attack domestic animals and even human beings. Lions that are infirm- such as the old and the sick can easily attack humans and you are advised to exercise caution and take your photos from the safety of a car. So if you are out camping, watch out! All said, incidences of lions attacking humans are extremely rare. The image of the lion has recently been rehabilitated in the minds of many by the popular children cartoon drama “Lion King”, whose hero is Simba- Swahili for lion.

The future of the lion in the savannas of East Africa is not assured. The main challenge is conflict with man, his ancient enemy. People living in areas bordering parks, sometimes inflict the ultimate punishment to lions when they are caught preying on livestock. In the Serengeti plains of Tanzania, the king has recently experienced attacks by a viral disease know as FIV -Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. FIV, just like HIV in humans, results in lowered immunity making the animals vulnerable to other diseases. Unlike HIV, however, the primary means of transmission of FIV is bite wounds and not sexual intimacy.

Of the big cats of East Africa, the most elegant is the leopard. The leopard is the most naturally adapted of the cats. It can survive in almost in any habitat offering sufficient food and cover. That is why, of the big cats, leopards thrive in the most diverse range of habitats; and of land mammals they enjoy the widest distribution in the tropics. In East Africa, they have been found in the most unlikely of places- from deserts, to mountaintops and even in cities. That not withstanding, scientists were surprised, when in 1990 three leopards were found living in a Kampala city train station.

The full grown adult stretches between 1 to 1.5 m and can reach a weight of 60 kg. Man (and especially woman) has always been jealous of the leopards beautiful coat. Those of East Africa have round spots unlike the square spots of the southern African species. Leopards are solitary animals and you hardly ever find them in groups. The sexes associate only long enough to mate! Females are ready to breed at about 2 years of age, when they produce up to 3 cubs after a gestation period of about 90 days.

The leopard therefore faces less danger than either the lion or the cheetah. Notwithstanding that they are very widely distributed in East Africa, you are unlikely to see them in large numbers. In addition, this most secretive of cats is nocturnal. The traveler who is determined to see them must be very calm and patient, for only the most persevering are rewarded. Even scientists have such trouble spotting them, with the consequence that they are not as well studied as the other cats.

The leopard is the strongest climber among the carnivores. And they spend mostly their days inactive, draped over tree branches. So, to se them, set your sights to the treetops. You are further advised to take your game drives very silently and watch out at rivers and water holes. The leopard is a stalking predator and lies ready to pounce at such places where prey would seek food and water. Some lucky people also come across leopards basking on the rocks early in the mornings.

The cheetah is the smallest of the big cats of East Africa. It can reach up to 1.4 m in length; males can weigh up to 55 kg and females 40kg. For the inexperienced, it is difficult to tell apart from a leopard. But you can distinguish it by the long teardrop-shaped lines on each side of the nose, from the corner of the eyes to the mouth. It also has protruding and streamlined neck and thin legs. This animal is specially adapted for speed and it is indeed the world’s fastest mammal.

From a resting position, the cheetah can reach a speed of 80 km/h in less than 3 seconds. It can run a stable speed of 105km/h, compared to a man’s 37km/h. But take heart, it is not a man-eater. The cheetah lacks the stamina to be more than a short distance runner. It is not a very social species and lives either singly or in small groups. Females are ready to procreate from about the age of 2 years and after a gestation period of about 90 days give birth to up to 6 cubs. Hunting by day only, this solitary hunter relies on its famed speed and keen eyesight. It technique is to stalk stealthily and then take a short killer dash when prey is within 30 m.

The cheetah is mainly found in grasslands, woodland savannas and semi deserts. It survives best in vast ranges where prey is plenty. This cat has never enjoyed wide geographical distribution or high densities. And numbers have drastically fallen over the last few decades. Today not more than 12,000 remain worldwide, mostly in eastern and southern Africa. In East Africa, the only areas where you can easily spot cheetahs are Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. But the cat is also present, though in fewer numbers, in Tsavo in Kenya, Mkomazi in Tanzania and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda.

Scientists have classified the cheetah as an endangered species and think that it faces possible extinction. Only one species -jubatus remains today. The lack of genetic diversity, possibly caused by inbreeding, is yet another handicap in ensuring the long-term survival of this cat. In its daily life, the cheetah faces competition from other carnivores such as lions and hyenas. In some areas, Maasai Mara of Kenya for example, instances of lions killing cheetah cubs are very common; hyenas too eat them. The lion kills the cubs only to destroy and never eats them -an extremely disgraceful show for an animal that would be regarded as king.

Cheetahs are active only by day. In East Africa’s game sanctuaries, tourists interrupt critical activities like feeding and suckling of the young. There are incidences of mothers abandoning their cubs under the pressure of human curiosity. Considering the challenges facing the species, conservation options are yet limited by the fact that cheetahs do so poorly in captivity and almost never breed unless free. Spare a thought today for the cheetah, whose future is so uncertain. If you want to do more, talk to the Cheetah Conservation Fund(www.cheetah.org). And hope that such glorious days as when it was honored as a cat-goddess in ancient Egypt will yet come again.

East Africa is a year round safari destination. The rains come around April- May and November-December. This does not however, much affect the travelers’ ability to get around. In general the best time to go on safari to see the big cats is over the drier months when the grass is short and sighting animals is so much easier. But in areas such as the Maasai Mara, the animals are so plentiful that you are going to see lots of them regardless of the season. The peak tourist season falls around January to February and July to August. April to June is the low season and prices for accommodation in the lodges can be as much as 40% lower than in the high season.

Accommodation on safari varies from basic camping to luxury lodges and tented camps. Out there in the bush, you will be pleasantly surprised that there is a variety of East African safari lodges:-

Kenya Hotels & Lodges

Tanzania Hotels & Lodges

having all the trimmings of 5 star luxury. But if you want to rough it out,you will find campsites in almost all the game reserves and national parks. It is generally recommended to take an escorted safari package:-

Kenya Safaris

Tanzania Safaris

that includes transport, park fees and accommodation. The reason for this is that the tour guides are usually well versed about the animals, where to find them and how to get there and have other such useful local knowledge. But if you have a lot of time and need more freedom as you get around, then taking a rental car is an option.

On safari, wear light cottons and linen. Warmer clothing is needed for the evenings and for your early morning game drive. Some rainwear is advisable between March and June and October and December. You should bring along a decent pair of sunglasses. The glare you experience in bright tropical light is a new and uncomfortable experience for most. It is also a good idea to carry a pair of binoculars. They are very useful for spotting animals and will earn you the envy of your less
knowledgeable traveling companions.

Copyright © Africa Point

Free Online Seduction Tips – Sexy Techniques in Seducing a Girl Online!

It’s true that knowing a few online seduction tips can get you a long way, even if you can also do your moves with a girl in person. However, the internet has been a great outlet for most dateless shy guys to find true love at last — or even just a hot date to get busy with for the night. Seducing a girl online is actually pretty easy to do, although it can be a little awkward and a bit daunting at first. But hey — it’s online! There’s no better place to be your absolute best self and still get the girl that you want. So to make it all happen at last, here are a few free online seduction tips you need to make you meet that girl you’ve been looking for!

  • Always feel good about yourself. Believe it or not, it’s evident online. When you’re in a foul mood, it will reflect with how you introduce yourself (although it can be a pretty interesting to talk about with someone, just not on the first meeting). You need to be in the mood for it — she will definitely tell from the other end of the circuit.
  • Go easy on your first time. Don’t be too smooth or too cocky when you just met this amazing girl who seemed to be up for anything, whatever it is. Be friendly, nice to talk to and a good listener — all good things which is expected. Don’t be a pervert — but a few pick-up lines can add spice to make you both goof around. 
  • Keep your conversations interesting. Ask her questions — just like in a normal date. Get to know her better by asking her about her likes and dislikes, her hobbies and interests and all that other stuff — make sure you share yours too. Make use of follow-up questions to keep her fascinated.
  • Don’t reveal too much right away. Always keep that air of mystery within you. Don’t go marketing yourself like an ad for a male escort or something. Keep her curiosity level high and always make sure not too reveal too much right away — the goal here is to keep her coming for more of you.
  • Let her know you’re willing to meet-up. Don’t just let both your world revolve around the internet — look forward into actually meeting up in person! Technically, that’s why you went online in the first place — to meet someone for a possible romantic relationship. So go ahead and ask her out when you think the time is right. You’ll never regret it.

Do you want to become a master when it comes to reading the signs of flirting? Are you still up for more tricks on how to flirt, approach hot girls and cracking the code of sexual chemistry and attraction? Can you handle the excitement and thrill of my free seduction advice and more on free online dating sites? Unravel more techniques on how to be an expert when it comes to dating and flirting with women by visiting my website this very second! You’re just one click away from it all.

Mata Hari – The Wild Woman

The Myth of Mata Hari

Mata Hari was the stage name of Margaretha Zelle, born in Holland in August 1876. When she was 13 years old her father went bankrupt and her parents divorced. Her mother passed away two years later, after which she moved to live with her godfather. After suffering from sexual harassment (then it was called “flirting”) by her school’s headmaster, her godfather sent her to live with her uncle.

At 18, Margaretha answered a newspaper advertisement placed by Rudolph MacLeod, an officer in the Dutch army, who was looking for a wife. MacLeod was twice her age. After they married, they moved to live on the island of Java, where they had two children. Margaretha quickly learned that her husband was a violent alcoholic and womanizer who always kept a mistress, sometimes even two at a time. During this difficult time in Java, though, she found peace in dancing. Margaretha joined a local dance group and studied Indonesian dance.

In 1899, when Margaretha was 23, their son died, apparently of complications due to syphilis that he contracted from his parents. This tragedy caused them to leave Java and return to Holland. The couple claimed their son was poisoned by a resentful servant. Once in Holland the couple divorced, with Rudolph retaining custody rights of their daughter. (The daughter died at the age of 21, also probably from complications relating to syphilis.)

When she was only 27, Margaretha moved to Paris on her own and worked as a nude artist’s model and as a club dancer. It took her two years to become a famous exotic dancer with the adopted name, “Mata Hari” (“the dawn child”). She maintained her exotic appearance by keeping her skin tanned, and presented herself as being raised in the sacred houses of Indian dance. As a result of her experience as a dancer in Java she used motives from Indonesian dance and thus effectively created the oriental dance.

Mata Hari’s style on-stage was very provocative and liberal, and she even posed for photographs all but nude. Her mysterious aura and openly sexual behavior turned her into a star overnight. She was an extremely popular woman and effectively became an escort, a courtesan, socializing with the rich at all of the important events around Europe. In the years preceding World War I, she was considered an artist, a bohemian, a free spirit. She had ties to senior military officers from all European countries, politicians and other people of influence, and thus traveled freely all around Europe (with her Dutch passport), even during the war. Her wealthy lovers paid for her luxurious lifestyle.

Her provocative behavior and the cultural movement that followed drew a lot of attention. On one side were the conservative groups who did not look too kindly upon her sexual inclinations, while on the other side the male elite saw no limit to her attractiveness. She would sleep with the officers on both sides of enemy lines. British intelligence kept track of her and even investigated her once, resulting in her admission that she was working with French intelligence, supplying them with information confided to her by German officers.

In January 1917 German intelligence set up a trap, transmitting radio messages from Madrid to Berlin in a code that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French. The messages described the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21, and from the information they contained, French intelligence identified the spy as Mata Hari.

Mata Hari was arrested in her Paris hotel and charged with spying for the Germans and, consequently, the deaths of thousands of soldiers. During her trial she argued that she simply loved to sleep with soldiers that were, in her opinion, superior men, adventurous, and willing to stand before danger, but that she didn’t care what country they were from.
Although they didn’t have any reasonable evidence – and despite the fact that even if she did pass on intelligence to the Germans, it would have been marginal information – the French made a lot of noise about the case, and decided to make her an example. The matter turned dramatic and a lot was exclaimed about the “love woman”; her name was denigrated. The French had every incentive, however, to expedite the affair as quickly as possible, since they were ashamed that she knew so much from her bedroom adventures with the soldiers.

Mata Hari was found guilty of espionage and executed by firing squads in October 1917, at the age of 41. Immediately following her death speculation concerning the details and authenticity of her story of espionage emerged, but in the end she died a legend. It is said that she refused to be blindfolded and blew kisses to the firing squad before they pulled the trigger.

Mata Hari ultimately turned into a myth: a female spy that used the power of her femininity to acquire secrets from male officers, men who not only found her temptation irresistible, but were so taken by her that they lost themselves and revealed military secrets in bed.

What does Mata Hari represent?

Why are we drawn to this myth?

How did Mata Hari turn into a symbol that has been seared in our consciousness forever?

This is a Cinderella story. The orphaned, underdog girl, who fell into the arms of the violent husband and suffered abuse and humiliation, reinvents herself in Paris, the city of lights, and turns into an exotic princess who frees herself from all inhibitions imposed by conservative society, who decides to stop being a “victim” and turns into the sole executive of her life, who knows both the power of her femininity and the male “weakness.”

But just like in the legend, when she has become too “strong” she starts to be dangerous. The men reveal all of their secrets in bed… She sleeps with the officers of the enemy, and begins not only pose a danger but also embarrasses the men, by exposing their weakness, revealing their shallow selves, their gullibility, their existence as a sex which loses its mind when faced with their sexuality. And this they cannot stand… She must die. No, they cannot change. No, it’s not their fault. It is she, the witch, who tricked them…

She had to die!

Even so, they did not succeed to kill her. On the contrary, her dramatic death allowed her to live forever…

Mata Hari represents the liberated woman, the power of femininity, the wild, sexual woman who doesn’t care what she is told, who lives her life to the fullest with the best of them.

This is “the whore.” A woman who belongs to no one, who is subservient to no one. She is sensual, she reveals her body without embarrassment, and she uses it to live a life of wealth and leisure.

She risked doing what we all want but don’t allow ourselves (men and women included) – she risked to live!!! She risked breaking through the norms; she risked demanding for herself a good life, a life of leisure. She reinvented herself.

She turned into a femme fatale. Everyone is drawn to her. The men can’t contain themselves when faced with her sexuality, and women envy her in secret, resenting and despising her ability to control men.

Everyone treats her with ambivalence. And she doesn’t “give a damn” and do only what is good for her and her interests. Does she not represent the fact that in our hearts we too want such freedom? To do only what is good for us?

And who but “Madonna” (the singer) is the modern Mata Hari, who separated herself from the conventional life, adopted her own stage name (a provocative one in and of itself) and broke into the big city in order to conquer the world. And did she ever conquer it! Just like Mata Hari, she broke norms and barriers, and used her sexuality and temptation in order to turn into a brand name and get whatever she wanted. She presented the world with a sexual and attractive woman who didn’t care what people thought about her, is free, in control of her life, a sharp and strict businesswoman who mocks the conservative world. Fortunately for her, she lived in an era that not only allowed her to live, but the exact opposite – she was a highly respected and wealthy woman.

The Dutch girl was no longer Margaretha Zelle, she was Mata Hari, the spy who obtained secrets in bed. She is an archetype, a myth, a legend. She represents the wild woman that is present inside each and every one of us. The awareness and freedom, the breaking down of barriers laid out by society’s norms. She doesn’t know what it means to be embarrassed. She develops an elephant’s skin and doesn’t allow anything to refuse her from attaining her goals. These types of woman make a conscious decision to stop living in fear!

This fear of humiliation, which stops us all, this fear from rejection which paralyzes us – does not exist in these women.
And ironically, in fact, it is the lack of embarrassment which makes the wild woman so popular.

And she is present in each and every one of us, here and now. Yes, in all us “good kids,” men and women, who don’t allow ourselves release, to be a little wild, to break the rules…

What is the mantra that we must tell ourselves in order to be wild?

The mantra is the question: “So what?”
So they will say about me… So what?
So they will think that I am… So what?

The question of “so what?” puts things into proportion. When a man asks “so what?” he is, in fact, confronting himself with “what am I so afraid of?” “What’s the worst that can happen?” And when we pose this question, things dwarf when compared to the freedom, to the rewards of self-expression and self-fulfillment.

Let us grant her a place in our life when, once in a while, for just a little bit, we break free and go wild. We will sear the question, “So what?” into our spirit. It is just a matter of approach, a matter of decision and of course a matter of courage.

Escort Redline Vs Beltronics Sti Driver – Which Is Better for You?

If you’ve done any research on radar detectors, you know that two of the top units on the market today are the Escort Redline and the Beltronics STi Driver. These two devices are actually made by the same company, use very similar components, and contain almost the exact same features. There are some differences that we’d like to point out as one may be better suited to your driving style than the other.

First off, both of these radar detectors are built on the Beltronics/Escort M3 radar detection platform which is known to be a top performer. Both of these devices have excellent range on all police radar bands and will outperform almost everything else on the market today. These units are known to deliver alerts at over 10 miles away on flat, straight roads.

The top feature for both of these units, after the amazing range, is the fact that they are not detectable by any radar detector detector. Not only are they immune to current detectors, but they’ll also be immune to all future radar detector detectors. This is an extremely important feature if you drive through areas where radar detector use is illegal (such as Virginia and parts of Canada). Both units also have automatic scan modes to find and reduce false alarms, ultra-bright displays, automatic muting of audio alerts, and the ability to display the numeric frequency of radar alerts.

This is where the similarities end and the two units start to show their differences. For the voice alerts, the Beltronics STi Driver uses a male voice, while the Escort Redline uses a female’s voice. We’ve heard both, and we can say, without a doubt, that the female voice on the Redline is the better option as it is much clearer and more easily understood.

The next difference comes in the the display of radar alerts. Both the STi Driver and the Redline can display a bar graph (similar to the bars on your cell phone) or the numeric frequency of the radar gun when alerting. Each also has a third mode which is able to show the signal strength of multiple radar sources at one time. The Beltronics can display up to one X, K and Ka band alert at once while the Escort can display four X, two K and two Ka band alerts all at one time. The Redline’s display gives you more information, but the Beltronics display is easier to read in this mode.

The STi Driver costs a bit less than the Redline and has comparable performance. If you can live with the male voice (or turn off voice alerts like we do) and don’t need the Expert Meter display mode that the Redline provides, we’d recommend looking into the Beltronics product as it will save you some money. If you are like us and want all the goodies, splurge a little and get the Escort Redline. Either option is a good choice, but your preference may lie with one over the other based on the differences listed above.